Czech Easter Folk Customs and Traditions
Easter belongs to the ancient holidays of the first spring full moon, associated with the celebration of the return of spring, the resurrection of Christ, and the launch of a new agricultural year
In addition to the painted Easter eggs, the osier stick, a switch plaited from fresh willow branches and adorned with ribbons, is a Czech Easter symbol. On Easter Monday boys and men go caroling and symbolically whip girls and women with the plaited osier sticks. According to folk traditions, the whipping is supposed to bring women beauty and freshness throughout the year. In some regions, they also still keep the rattles custom. From Thursday to Saturday boys walk around the village houses making noise with their wooden rattles, thereby summoning believers to church instead of bells, which fell silent during the Easter holidays and symbolically flew off to Rome. After the period of fasting comes a period of true abundance. Some typical Easter dishes are lamb or rabbit meat with nettle stuffing, cross buns from slowly leavened dough or sponge cake lambs with icing. Judases (baked goods) drizzled in honey and divine grace (fried dough coated in sugar) are also great delicacies. And Easter Monday could never go without a meal prepared from eggs! Eggs are an ancient symbol of new life and rebirth. During the Easter holidays, most restaurants serve spiced beer specialities along with the Easter menu.
Folk tradition for everyone
The grounds of the oldest and the largest open air museum in Central Europe in Rožnov pod Radhošťěm come alive with samples of traditional Easter and spring customs. This year, on Saturday, April 19th, you will see a craft fair with demonstrations of traditional crafts. A day later, on Easter Sunday, folklore ensembles will perform, and you will be able to buy hand-painted Easter eggs or plaited osier sticks.
Easter in Veselý Kopec in Eastern Bohemia will take on a similar form. You can experience the holidays as our ancestors did from April 5th to April 21st. Exhibitions bringing to life the traditional folk customs will be held in all log buildings.
The capital city of Prague hasn’t forgotten about its residents and visitors either. In particular, it has prepared folk fairs and festivities. The main fair will take place in the Old Town Square, in the historic heart of the city. You will be able to buy items such as painted Easter eggs, osier sticks, even Easter bread – as well as cross buns, the aforementioned Judases (baked goods) and sponge cake lambs. A rich cultural program full of folk songs, dances and demonstrations of folk customs has been prepared. The smallest can try out their artistic talents in painting Easter eggs or in plaiting osier sticks.
The spiritual dimension of Easter
Despite all of the folk traditions, Easter especially has a spiritual dimension for Christians and Christian culture. At this time, the death and resurrection of Christ is remembered in churches and chapels. The most important temple in the Czech Republic – St. Vitus Cathedral, which is celebrating the 670th anniversary of its foundation this year – is preparing a special Lent sermon during the period of fasting and a regular mass during Easter.
An Easter festival of spiritual music will take place in Brno from the 13th to the 27th of April in 2014. This year the festival is dedicated to the commemoration of the Eastern Christian liturgy and its influences on European culture. Concerts will be held in the beautiful historic churches throughout the city.